Saturday, June 26, 2010

Castles in the Air

Photo by Fallingwater123 via Flickr

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." ~ The Declaration of Independence
In 1776, when the founding fathers signed into existence a new country and a new hope, I wonder if they considered the way that centuries would erode the connotations of the words Jefferson penned that Philadelphia summer.

Among the smudged and often misquoted phrases is the beautiful and titillating "pursuit of Happiness." Two hundred years after the words were penned, this phrase is the foundation of the American Dream. It is our culture's creed.

So, almost from the time we are born, we are taught to build our castles in the air. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" the chorus sings as we grow to understand that, whatever our answer, our dreams can come true. Shoot for the stars. Better to dream big than to dream small.

Eventually, reality rains down on our parades. Some dreams come true. Most don't. Some kids do grow up to walk on the moon. Some boys grow up to be president. Some girls become princesses. But the majority of us grow up to button-up blue-collars, settle down, and tell our children to dream big. Maybe their castles in the air will become a reality.

The problem with this system is not only it's absurdity, but it's blatant self-centeredness. Too often, our pursuit of happiness is "all about me." After all, isn't happiness subjective? Isn't it for me to decide what makes me happy? And don't I have a right to have that?

The answer, when you are a follower of Christ, is, "No. You most certainly do not."

Jesus Himself said we cannot serve two masters:
"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." ~ Matthew 6:24a, ESV
When we come to Christ, we renounce all masters but Him. Too often we forget that this renunciation must include ourselves.

Jesus becomes our breath. Our bread. Our water. Our life.

He also becomes our hope. Our life-goal. Our dream.

When Christ is our Master, we pick up the keys to His Kingdom, and we begin building His heavenly castle in the air.

3 comments:

  1. Excellent reminder, Candice. I think it borders on tragic that the phrase "pursuit of happiness" has become so misconstrued in recent times. In the founders' minds, it spoke not of the the pursuit of pleasures but to the pursuit of virtue, for it is only the virtuous person who can live the blessed or truly happy life.

    And lest I get carried off in my Aristotelian philosophizing, it is well to remember that in man dwells nothing good apart from God. Truly as you mention, Christ is our only hope. And I would add, His our only virtue and our only hope for happiness.

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  2. Something my dad always told me was to dream small. If I dream realistically, then it's better.
    But As Jesus said.. what good is it if you gain the whole world and you lose your own soul. You are so right, if you focus on God, you will have your dreams fulfilled.

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